tv Nancy Grace HLN October 22, 2009 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT
death. mr. coffman: would the gentleman yield for a question. there is cost shifting for medicare and medicaid, the underfunding of those gaft programs, which have -- done much more in terms of cost shifting in terms of the private insurance market have had a big factor in escalating premiums, but when we talk about how government sets rates, it doesn't set rates to the market. as a private company would have to do, it can set rates at an artificially low level because it doesn't have to respond to the market. could you address that, and why the public option would destroy private insurance. . mr. thompson: three primary reasons why health insurance is so expensive, one thing is we
need more competition. really interested in learning more about the model in utah and it's intriguing, it sounds like a great model to look at. but more competition is important. secondly, it's the need for tort reform. i talked about those numbers, $126 billion a year drives costs up, it drives the cost of providing care up, therefore commercial insurance goes up. and finally there's the necessary cost shifting that could he curs. some -- occurs. some of my colleagues in this body, when you hear the terms cost shifting they see that as an evil thing. when you come out of health care, you understand what happens in health care. i would have to say the primary reason that health insurance is so expensive is because government creates an entitlement, medicare, medical assistance, and then from day one after they created it, discovered they can't afford it so they underfund it. let me talk about the numbers specifically. medicare, for every dollar it costs a hospital or physician has, medicare pays 80 cents to
90 cents. 80% to 90%. if it's medical assistance that's 40 cents to 60 crepts for every dollar of cost. if you just operate on medicare or medical assistance, a hospital or a doctor you can see, you know, they have these costs and this reimbursement, they're not going to keep their doors open long because they can't cover their costs so they negotiate with commercial insurance. and commercial insurance pays at least 140%. 140% of costs. why do they do that? they do that because in the negotiation process doctors and hospitals need to achieve that 140% from commercial insurance to offset what medical assistance and what -- medicare, what the government doesn't pay. so that's where the cost shifting occurs because if you don't get that high rate for commercial insurance you're not going to be able to make payroll.
you're not going to be able to invest in life saving technology, you're not going to be able to keep the lights on in the facility. and so the fact is, government creates these new programs with the best intentions, i'm sure, but quickly finds that the costs are just so tremendous that they begin to systemically underfund those costs. one of the biggest concerns i have with the public option, as i read h.r. 3200, the education and labor committee, when we mark that bill up, is that the public option would pay medicare rates. medicare rates is 80% to 90% of cost. 80 cents to 90 cents for every dollar of cost. i do believe that the public option will be cheaper than commercial insurance. because the public option will also underfund the cost of health care. and the public option replaces the commercial insurance that today really funds and keeps the lights on in our hospitals and
our doctors in practice, we're going to lose -- we're going to lose health care providers. i yield back. mr. coffman: congressman bishop, you've talked about some of the health care reform measures before the congress, some of the republican measures. i think you referenced one by congressman shadegg and you referenced another one, congressman shadegg and congressman price. i think you referenced two republican health care proposals. i wonder if could you talk about -- i think that everybody in the congress agrees that reform is necessary. that the system isn't working as it should, that people are paying too much for health care, that we need to do more for the uninsured. it's a question of how we get there. and do we do a government takeover of the system by including a government-controlled health care plan or are there market-based solutions?
and i wonder if you could give your view on how you see reform. mr. bishop: i appreciate that. i think the conversation you've had so far with congressman thompson is fascinating because he has explained some of the problems you have when the government steps in to run the system. if we look back at the history of the medicaid portion, it does not give us a whole lot of confidence for moving forward and allowing the government to take a larger role in this area. since medicaid was founded in 1965 it has been -- costs have escalated at 2.3% higher than the rate of inflation. today medicare costs 37 times what it cost back then after being adjusted for inflation. so when we first have -- when congress first established medicare, they thought it would cost $238 million a year. that first year it was closer to $1 billion. they projected that by 1990 it would cost $12 billion. the actual number was more like $90 billion. and if as the gentleman suggests
that the government therefore has taken over those particular options and you no longer have this cost shifting onto the private sector, the only other option you have in health care systems trying to deal with those real costs, you can go bankruptcy, but the only other option you have is cutting services that are given. which is why this debate is so significant. and why these other bills we have been talking about are so important that they be debated here on the floor. so people can realize that rather than having the government explain what you can and cannot do, if you simply open up the option so individuals have a choice and become part of the system, there is a responsibility of the consumer as part of the system, then these changes can happen. we have in every other kind of insurance you can buy insurance across state lines, for auto, for housing. why not for medicine? a simple change in the federal restrictions would allow that to take place. you can pool from almost everything except in this area. why not change those
restrictions which is what we're talking? why not allow people to buy their own insurance with pretax dollars, not post tax dollars? why not allow a benefit to the small business the way big businesses have. these are portable. when a person leaves the employee at that company they still have a pot of money and they still have some kind of security with them to go on. these are the kind of ideas that are going to change the dynamic of the system. because as has clearly been stated, all we're talking about so far with leadership's plans that they've been presenting is how to ensure everyone has an insurance. not to you who -- how to make health care affordable for all americans. and the only way you can do that is by allowing the consumers to take responsibility, to have choices, to do the comparison shopping and that's the entire program in utah. it's a defying contribution approach. so the employer gives money to the employee and the employee can then go online and look at everything that's out there and pick what's important for them.
not necessarily what the company is offering. and a small business that can't afford that can now give the employee money, they can add with their own money if they want to, and pick what is available from what are the options out there and we can expand that wider. that's the only way you get competition that will have the affect of adding pressure on the system to lower the price and to increase the quality. we do that all the time. it is cheaper today to get your nose fixed than ever before. because it's not covered by insurance. employees, i mean, individuals negotiate with doctors for medical services and the costs have come down. lacer eye surge i have cheaper today than ever before because employees negotiate with doctors and the prices are coming down. why don't we allow that system to work in the other ways? that's what these other programs are talking about. of allowing people to be empowered to make choices for themselves that they are competent and capable of doing and with that kind of market
force on the system, the costs will come down. but it has never happened when the government has decided to step in and force those costs to come down. it didn't work with medicare, it hasn't worked in foreign country s and the real fear is if you're not destroying jobs you're destroying quality of health care because the only other option you were left with is minimizing what can be given to an individual. denying services, that's not where we want to go. but unfortunately if we only have this one bill that the leadership wants to put forward here, that's the end result of that. we need to beg the leadership to allow other debates and other options to be fully, fully vetted on this particular floor. i may have gone too far off of what your initial question was but that's still the bottom line. we should be empowering people with options and choices. that is not what the leadership of this house is trying to do with their particular bill. and that's why we need to bring these other bills to the floor
for open discussion and open debate and an open vote. i yield back to the gentleman from colorado. mr. coffman: thank you, congressman bishop. congressman thompson, there's a great deal of discussion, particularly among seniors, that are very concerned about changes in their -- is their health care system, is it going to be rationed? as we look at the fact that we're serving hundreds of billions of dollars out of medicare to fund the public option and the fact that medicare has solvency problems of its own, it's projected to run out of money in 2017, and so then we have a commission, if they revert to the public option, the services that allowed to be provided in the government option are going to be defined by bureaucrats. it's not going to be about a doctor-patient relationship in terms of what's going to be provided. it is going to be -- there's a commission, i believe, that is established to decide what is
going -- what services will be provided in the public option and seniors are concerned because 25% or more of health care is used in the latest stages of life. so what does that mean for them? maybe could you address that. mr. thompson: thank you. actually commissioned is a body of individuals but even more frightening to me is just the one loan bureaucrat, the health insurance -- lone bureaucrat, the health insurance commissioner, as defined within house resolution 3200. as we work our way through this thousand-plus bill and the education and labor committee, over a course of 20 hours back at the very end of july, i found that many times there was so much left undefined and everything was referred to according to the health insurance commissioner, the health insurance commissioner, the health insurance commissioner, well, you know, our health care -- there's
probably few things that we can debate on this floor that's more intimate than our health care. certainly a few things are as large a part of our economy. and our colleagues who were here just the previous hour from the progressive caucus, you know, talked about how, you know, those of us who oppose -- those of us who oppose their health care plan, those of us who would support more smart government solutions, more free market solutions to health care, that we have the scare tactics and one of them is rationing and rationing could never occur. rationing just won't happen. i've got news for them. rationing happens today. and where does it happen? it happens first and foremost under the government plan. let me tell but medicare part d. part of my background is, you know, i've had the privilege of working with older adults for my entire career. in rehabilitation services, the
last number of many years of my career, 15 years, i worked in skilled nursing as well. and i became licensed as a nursing home administrator and i talked briefly about the cuts to medicare part b and medicare part b is slated for additional cuts of $130 billion and medicare part b, you think about the individuals who come into a nursing home. they come there because they're the sickest of the sick. they're there because they don't have any other alternatives in terms of the care, the health care, that they require. they have intense needs. these are folks who have, you know, are just a lot of very intense needs. and today the government under medicare part b, if you need therapy services, it arbitrarily puts a number, there's a max amount of dollars and i've been out of this -- out of that for about 10 months but it was
somewhere around $1,800 a year of therapy services. arbitrary number. that's rationing in my line. you know, it doesn't matter the fact that you have maybe suffered a stroke or you have fallen or you have a debilitating weakness that you developed. once you max out on that medicare part b benefit, that's it. that's the upper limit of what you receive. and that's -- so we have rationing today and rationing occurs under the current -- one of the current government programs for medicare part b. so i don't know where you -- when you look at -- i've worked in the inpatient hospital side for almost 30 years as part of my practice. as i said, a 2% to 4% margin is a banner year and out of that you want to be out that have 4%, cost of living adjustments so you continue to contain the best
and the brightest. if somebody's going to use a scalpel on me i want it to be the smartest person in the county and we want to be able to recruit and retain those individuals. so 4% margin. most of my hospitals are not doing that well and most hospitals across the nation are probably challenged and not doing that well. then you have skilled nursing facilities where honestly nobody's getting rich there. they're providing good passionate care, they're treating people with intense needed and yet those are slated for -- needs and yet those are slated for significant cuts specifically in skilled nursing, $14.6 billion is the designated cut. this is out of the senate finance bill. the baucus bill. so those cuts have to come somewhere and they're going to come out of services, they're going to come out of the -- they won't come out of compassion because people who work in those
areas, they're truly dedicated to serving the needs of older adults and people with needs. but they will come out of the care. those dollars have to impact access to services. . mr. coffman: thank you, congressmen. i certainly hope that we can have a bipartisan solution on what i think is a very critical issue and that really needs to involve both parties of congress in the negotiation that we don't have right now. and i think that's a great tragedy that it hasn't been a bipartisan process. but i believe there are market-based solutions that will not endanger this economy in terms of creating unemployment through burdens on small
businesses and driving the deficit and the debt of this country beyond what it is today. and from the republican point of view, thank you. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the gentlewoman from north carolina is recognized for five minutes. ms. foxx: thank you, madam speaker. today during a rule debate, i voiced my concern over the increase in government spending in the u.s. i warned my fellow americans that this reckless spending risks turning our country into a south american style nation. one of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle retorted by highlighting the successes of nations such as brazil or argentina. that's very interesting. shortly after our exchange, i read that argentina recently
enacted a press-restriction law that serves to muzzle media critics of the president. it seems that the media was getting too aggressive in critiquing the ruling party's corruption. sounds like a great model for free speech and expression, right? i hope that the newly elected congress of argentina scraps this law and we as americans realize the gift that our form of government is and work together to preserve it. and contrary to the advice of my colleagues, hopefully the united states does not use this country's success as a model for reform. and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: ungedl under the speaker's announced policy of january 6, 2009, the chair recognizes mr. polis for
half of the remaining time until midnight. mr. polis: i recall the comments earlier and there was a reference to the gentlelady made a reference to a fear that america wore look like the developing world especially south america ms. foxx: some countries in south america. mr. polis: and there are a dozen or so other countries in south america. was that based on the solar energy bill or a more general comment? if we passed the solar energy bill or a different bill? foxx fox i was talking about -- ms. foxx: i was talking about my concern on the spending that is going on here. and we heard from the chairman of the board from branch banking and trust company in north carolina, one of the most
successful banks in the country. and last week, mr. ellison was here and speaking to a group of us and he cautioned us about the economic situation that we have. and he said if we don't rein in spending almost immediately, he believes that we have fewer than 25 years left before we become a third world country like countries in south america. i was basically quoting him, although not quoting veer bait im. mr. polis: the topic of course at the time was the solar energy research bill that was a bill that authorized some money and didn't actually spend any money that would have to come through the appropriations process. but i take it the remarks made with regard to expenditures generally and not specifically to the solar energy bill.
the point i made in response, certainly one i stand by is that america, which has experienced economic shrinkage has actually suffered more in this recent recession than brazil and argentina which have done very well in this year, 2009. both have experienced economic growth, both having their currencies gain value against the dollar. i'm not sure that mr. ellison's observations weren't relating to the observations of freedom of press or the social ills that plague south american countries. it wasn't the reference to the type of freedoms that we americans enjoy. independent of our economic condition, whether we are in a recession or growth, no matter how we are doing economically,
we as america enjoy many freedoms that they don't enjoy in other countries. we have a vibrant democracy, freedom of the press, right to assemble and i don't believe that yourself or mr. ellison, who i'm not familiar with, would feel those are in jeopardy like south america. is that correct, we are talking about the economic condition? ms. foxx: i was talking about the economic condition and it was our exchange today and i'm glad to have a chance to have this colloquy with you. we do agree that we are the freest country in the world and i hope you agree with me that we are the greatest country in the world as a result of that freedom and i don't want anything to threaten any of our freedoms. and i know you join me in that. mr. polis: i appreciate those comments and those sentments are
shared by every member. it's an honor and a privilege to serve the people of this country. and i certainly enjoy working with you on the rules committee in that capacity and look forward working with you in service to the people of this country. ms. foxx: and i feel the same way. mr. polis: i share with you and my colleagues here in the house stories of real americans and how health care reform affects us, affects them for -- it affects every walk of american life. and many of my constituents have shared their stories with me and asked that i share their stories with the american public and perhaps you might see something of yourselves. i want to share a story, not a happy one, but a story that one of my constituents named kelly
shared with me. kelly's father worked hard all of his life. he lived the american dream and was very successful in the broadcasting field and kelly says at one point her parents combined their worth just over $1 million. they saved up. they had a house. built equity. lived the american dream. they were anticipating a comfortable retirement. in their early 60's as they were putting their affairs in order in what they thought would be a prosperous and long retirement, they decided to change health insurance companies. during the qualifications testing, kelly's mother's liver enzymes were off and asked her to redo the blood test. they found a doctor and got the required test done.
unfortunately, the doctor found a tumor on one of kelly's mom's overries. they refused base odd this pre-existing condition, the scarlet letter, even though she continued her condition just before the diagnose. without insurance and without the hopes or ability of acquiring any, kelly had to watch as her parents got rid of all their assets, all their savings and retirement funds, all became lick which dated as their mother fought to stay alive. kelly's mother lost the fight. after beating the odds of five months, she passed away in 2004. kelly's father who is now 76, doing the right thing and saving up, has no retirement funds, no savings, no house and only his
social security check as income. there are millions of americans who are denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions. we prevent insurance companies from discriminating or not allowing access. she would have had affordable access through the exchange and give familiar list like kelly the financial security to plan for their retirement in a way where people can maintain honor and pride. and families like kelly's that i ask my colleagues to join me in supporting health care reform. madam speaker, i rise today to share a story with you that one of my constituents shared with me and asked that i tell my colleagues about to encourage
them to support health care reform. this is a woman from broomfield, colorado who asked her name not be used. a woman from california or texas, nevada, new york, this woman is a retired educator, about 10 years ago was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and knew what the diagnose meant because her mother lived with that for 10 years. soon after the diagnosis she experienced debilitating pain and had difficulty carrying out the most easy functions. she researched the disease on her own with her sons, with her doctors. they found out there were new medications on the market which showed promise. she asked her doctor about them.
he said, those medications might well work, but they were very expensive and not covered, not covered by insurance sm this resident of broomfield, colorado waited and suffered for years. finally her insurance did cover drugs and was able to take the new medication and reports that the effect was nothing short of miraculous. and she is able to resume a normal life. the medications is $36,000 a year. no way she could pay for that on an educator's salary and thankful she has insurance even though the costs are a major sacrifice and worries about those in her condition who don't have health care insurance. the years of pain and agony that she had to go through before the
treatment was covered. she tells us we need health care reform and preventive care for those with serious disease. she says in the long run, it will save a lot of money and be less strain on our economy to provide preventive care and wants us to pass national health care and get good medical care. it's for american families like this, like this story of a broomfield resident and i call upon my colleagues to join me in passing health care reform, thank you, madam speaker. madam speaker, i rise today to share with you the story of a constituent of mine from superior, colorado. now she might as well be from texas, california or nevada, anywhere, u.s.a.
karla works in the health care field. she is a registered nurse at boulder, colorado hospital. she sees a lot of patients. many she says are in the i.c.u. where she works because they can't afford health insurance and as a result, don't have access to preventive care. karla told me that the catastrophic conditions that bring them to her hospital can either be prevented or treated successfully and less expensively in earlier stages but because they don't have insurance, they wait until the ambulance has to be called. karla shared with me that these unfortunate people have so much suffering and pain visited upon them, that in most cases, could be prevented. kelly, like a lot of americans, has a very commonsense conclusion that i want to share with you on the floor of the house of representatives.
she says dollars are spent treating people and often is too late anyway. preventive care, madam speaker, can save money and just if not more importantly, save lives by diagnoseing cancer early, by treating diabetes. we can save money, save lives and strengthen american families. call upon my colleagues in the house to join me in supporting affordability credits so working families can afford health care, preventing pricing discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, low cost options, to buy insurance to get the same leverage that multinational corporation get and allow them to inexpensive insurance including a public option. . we've all seen a lot through the stories our friends and families
across the country and that's why it's time to pass health care reform. thank you, madam speaker. madam speaker, a number of my constituents from colorado have asked me to share their stories about why we need health care reform. this story could be from someone anywhere. it could be from someone in texas or california or new york. it happens to be someone from westminster, colorado, he asked that his name not be used but he wanted me to share his story. his story relates to the diabetes that he suffers from. his insurance insists that he uses a generic brand of control medicines for his condition. but he participated in a study which found that he could reduce his high triglycerides by 75%. as a matter of fact, his readings improved so much on the
study that he was removed as a candidate. he was advised by his doctor of the improvement and the doctor decided that he had to go back on the generic drug and wait to see if his reading went back to the previous condition. this gentleman feels that takes away his choice, just like the choice is taken away from tens of millions of american families, not only the families who don't have insurance, but even the families who do who have no real choice in what insurance provider they use. even after this gentleman from westminster, colorado, stated that costs from generic to primary is affordable and he personally was willing to pay the small difference between the two. the insurance company still made the decision on what drug he could use. and whether it was working. one of the flaws, many flaws, in our health care system today is the consume -- is that consumers lack choices. most americans get their health care through an employer,
whatever the employer chooses they get. if you're a self-employed individual, many markets the insurance industry is dominated 50%, 70%, in some markets, 80% by one or two insurance providers. one of the critical aspects of health care reform that this body is undertaking is increasing insurance competition in the marketplace. through the exchanges that are being created, we're creating a hypercompetitive environment where there could be dozens of insurance companies providing products and a public option. because surely it's not fair to say to people as a mandate you have to have insurance and by the way here's some affordability credits to get it and then throw them into bed with the sharks and say you have to get it from the insurance companies. it's great to have a public option there to help keep the insurance companies honest. by doing so we give people like this gentleman from westminster a real choice. if one insurer won't allow him
to pay out of pocket the difference between the drug that on the trial he was on which could prolong his life and save his health, you know what? he can switch. small companies that insure through the exchange, each of the employees of those companies will be able to choose for themselves any of the policies in the exchange. yes, that's right. today small business chooses an insurer if they're able to afford it because lord knows it costs small businesses a lot of company, every employee of that small business has that plan. under the proposed democratic plan, each employee of that small business would be able to pick from any, any of the insurance options within the exchange. giving this gentleman from westminster, colorado, and tens of millions of americans across our country choices in health care insurance that they simply don't have today. thank you, madam speaker.
madam speaker, i rise today to share with you a story of a resident of boulder, colorado, who asked that i share her story on the house of representatives and barbara lives in boulder, colorado, but she might as well live in fresno, california or houston, texas, or vegas, nevada. when barbara was diagnosed with breast cancer, her private insurance plan said they wouldn't cover treatment because they maintained that the cancer was caused by fiber cystic breasts which they claim was a pre-existing condition. now, barbara didn't believe that for a moment and her doctor backed her up and her doctor wrote a letter to the insurance company saying, no, this is breast cancer, it wasn't because of some pre-existing condition. barbara had to call the colorado state division of insurance and they called golden rule who was the insurer and all of a sudden golden rule yield ad lib and said, well, we'll cover --
yielded a little bit and said, we'll cover the surgery but not a bilateral mastectomy you. it took more cause and fighting. she got some support from the state division of insurance. finally they found that the health insurance company agreed to pay for the bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction. barbara's now covered by medicare, a private health insurance supplement. it's way less a price than she had to pay. she can go to any doctor she wants, get the treatment that she needs and barbara asked, why wouldn't the under 65 group be delighted with the ability to have the same kind of insurance coverage? when you hear about a public option, what you are hearing about is the ability to buy into medicare early. now, it's not exactly medicare but it's a medicare-like program under the version of the public option which i support, it will look very much like the medicare system.
this will enable people who are self-employed, work for small businesses, to participate in the exchange and say, you know what? i'm 62, i'm 49 -- 59, i'm going to buy into medicare early. my premiums will go it medicare. i'll have a provider in medicare. many people on medicare are happy with medicare. again, no one's always happy with their insurer, be it public or private. but when i had 22 town hall meetings during the recent recess and i asked every group, i said, you know medicare might not be perfect but aren't we happenpy that there is a medicare? where we we be if the country didn't have medicare at all? i think we'd be asking the same question 20 years down the road, where we would be if we didn't have the public option? what a way to provide real competition and allow people access to a medicare-like program at a younger age. thank you, madam speaker.
madam speaker, a number of my constituents have asked that i share their stories of why we need health care reform on the floor of the house of representatives and with the people of the united states. one gentleman from colorado asked that their name not be used. he and his wife are healthy, they have a new baby son who is also healthy. the mother, she returned to work when he was 12 weeks old and put him in daycare. now, why? she didn't need the salary, her husband had a good salary and something they could liven comfortably on. she really wanted to be with the baby more. don't they have savings? well, they have a little money saved but only enough to carry six to nine months of pexences. why would a woman wants it to be with her baby have to go back to work? very simple. they need health care insurance to fall back on if her husband is laid off, which is a real risk in his line of work and millions of americans losing
their jobs, that's a real risk for many american families. they wanted that peace of mind. and that's why she went back to work. sure, they could use cobra but if they had to pay for that and the tab came to $1,200 a month and they had the income not coming in, that would et up their savings right away -- that would eat up their savings right away. this woman says in our case, having affordable yet good health insurance would allow me to stay at home with our son and free up my job for sent someone who actually needs the -- for someone who actually needs the paycheck. health care reform can and will lead to stronger families, help provide jobs for those who need those jobs and give peace of mind and security to families across the country like this family. and that's why they want to us pass health care reform. thank you, madam speaker.
madam speaker, i rise today to share with you the story of mike from denver, colorado. mike shared a story with me and asked that i share it with my colleagues here in the house of representatives. mike was diagnosed with nonhodge kins limb foama in 2007. after his first week of chemotherapy, he contracted an infection and wound up landing in the hospital. as anybody knows who has experienced a hospital stay, during both weeks he was in the hospital, he racked up an enormous bill and of that, about 80% was covered by insurance. mike considered himself lucky that his out of pocket expenses were just under $22,000 a year. lucky that his bill was only $22,000. now mike can't imagine how he could even begin to afford the total bill which cost over $120,000. but for many american families,
$22,000 is almost as bad as $120,000 because it's money that we simply don't have. mike wanted me to share that every american deserves to be provided for in case of catastrophic medical emergency because it's the right thing to do. you know, nonhodge kins lymphoma, they can affect any one of us. i have a friend who is 41 years old, lived a healthy lifestyle, had a heart attack. he survived. lived a great -- lives healthy, through no fault of his own, he had a heart attack. that could be a pre-existing condition for him for the rest of his life just as for mike, the lymphoma's going to be a pre-existing condition. by providing affordability credits and empowering consumers to choose from a multitude of insurance options including the public option through the exchange, we can truly provide a better quality of health care to americans and that's why we need
to pass health care reform. thank you, madam speaker. madam speaker, i rise today to share with you the story of suzanne perry, of parker, colorado. she lives in parker but might as well be los angeles, california, might as well be billings, montana, might as well be dallas, texas. this is the story of -- could occur anywhere in this country. suzanne is a breast cancer survivor. she had 13 of 16 positive lynch nodes and came very, -- limp nodes and came very, very close to not making it. she took a high dose of chemotherapy, radiation, bone marrow transplant, bilateral radical mastectomies to save her life. because of those dramatic interventions she has significant scar tissue under both arms that continues it tighten, making it very difficult for her to even lift her arms to write.
or to hug her four children. the insurance company declined her doctor's request for scar relief surgery. they said, oh, that is cosmetic. she had to take her case all the way to the top of the insurance company's appeals chain. when she arrived at the insurance company's conference room to discuss arbitration, there was a group of men sitting around the conference room holding copies of a picture of her bare chest which had been submitted by doctors' evidence. suzanne say that was unquestionably intentional and felt demeaning for me and made it more difficult to present her case. imagine going into a room filled with a bunch of men all with pictures of you naked showing your breasts and your scar tissue. ultimately the arbitrator ruled that suzanne could have the scar tissue released on one side but not the other. that was akin to untying one arm
from behind my back but leaving the other one tied or akin to king solomon's famous solution to the solution of whose whiled was it when he was presented with two mothers claiming the same child and he recommended that they cut the child in half to find out which mother actually cared more for the fate of the child. and that's what ash traitors do. they split the difference. that's a commonly known theme. i have a business background and in our judicial system sometimes if you take a case to court they might decide whole hog one way or the other. if you go through a binding arbitration process, it's very common, doesn't always happen, but very common that the arbitrator will try to split it down the middle. in this case it meant she can lift one arm but she can't lift the other. . in a market system, it doesn't
work if one or two companies, have an 80% market share. through the exchange, we are providing an active marketplace where dozens and hundreds of insurance companies can compete. people will have the ability to go to other insurance companies and not be discriminated against based on their pre-existing condition and hopefully any insurance company that forces a woman to fight for a surgery she needs by showing up to a board room with 12 men, that insurance company should lose business and they will if they face real competition and that's what the democratic plan does. and that's why sue's story should be powerful story why my colleagues should join me in supporting health care reform. thank you, madam speaker.
i would like to share a story of one of my constituents from colorado. he wanted me to share his story. he was married 56 years ago. he and his wife didn't have health insurance at that time. few people did. but within a few years, they as many other americans, got health care from their employers and had one member of his family member employed. he has medicare. but he writes, his children, haven't been as fortunate. their children have, like many americans, experienced extended periods of unemployment and part-time employment. they have had extended periods of time under which they didn't have health care benefits and
couldn't afford to purchase any meaningful health care insurance. one or more of his kids have been forced to rely upon emergency room health care which they were unable to reimburse their health care provider. he told me all of the arguments against the government health care public option are quote, unquote, nuts and fundamentally flawed. he wanted me to share with you that we need public health care and he says that if someone can afford it, they can buy it. but it's a right, not a privilege. through health care reform, his kids would be receiving affordability credits. what that means is if you make $20,000, $30,000 or in a family of four, if you make $60,000 a year and don't get insurance through your employer, it is hard to afford insurance.
so what do we do under this plan? you receive vouchers that you can redeem for the health care product of your choice. now that wouldn't be enough, just that step in today's market because the cost of buying health care on your own is outrageous, so we take a couple of additional steps. one, we create an exchange. it gives every individual and small business the same buying power as a multinational corporation which hundreds of thousands of employees so they can get the same favorable rates that used to be reserved for the big boys. we prevent pricing discriminations and exclusions based on pro-existing conditions. so his kids would have access to real health care insurance and security for them and their families. hope that his story encourages my colleagues to understand the human face behind why it is so urgent for us to pass health
care reform. thank you, madam speaker. madam speaker, i rise today to share with you a powerful story from beth hunt in longmont and asked me to share her story to put a human face on health care reform. beth has a young family of four, two-income household, but lot a -- like a lot of people, they are struggling to get by. her husband is a self-employed handyman and works very hard. and that can be a very dangerous job. beth can't cover her husband under her insurance because it was way too expensive and her checks from her job would go
100% to insurance. why? her husband has high blood pressure and applied with independent insurance companies, but you they all denied him. what are we supposed to do, asks beth? i just hope that nothing happens to him because they can't afford it. i love him so much. he works very hard at his job. no one is watching out for my husband and no one seems to care about us. please help. health care reform will help beth and her family. and here's how. depending on the income level of the family, they are a family of four, if they make $72,000 a year, they will receive affordability credits, vouchers they'll get to take to the insurance provider of their choice. even if they make $80,000 or $90,000, they will have a low
cost option for beth's husband. what's that option? the exchange. the exchange is a pool of individuals and small businesses that buy insurance together effectively giving individuals that are covered like beth's husband who is in business for himself, the same buying power in buying insurance that multinational corporations with hundreds of thousands of employees have and so he is able to get that rate. we prevent exclusions based on pre-existing conditions. because just beth's husband has high blood pressure doesn't mean he won't be able to be covered. he will be able to get inexpensive insurance through the exchange without pricing discrimination based on his pre-existing condition. that will afford families like beth real financial security. health care reform will make families like beth's and millions stronger, stronger
because they have some degree of health care security, some degree of financial security and go to bed every night without worrying about what they have to do if god forbid they have a medical emergency. thank you, ma of madam speaker. madam speaker, i rise today to share with you a very powerful story from my home state of colorado, but this story could be from san francisco, california, could be from austin, texas, could be from salt lake city, utah. carol from denver, is a single mom with two kids. carol became disabled two years ago. because of that injury, in part, one of the reasons that led to her divorce because it became
very hard, she got connection through her church, but only lasted two years. as soon as she had the coverage, she went in for severe headaches and found a brain tumor. she had surgery for the brain tumor and weren't able to remove all of it. she was dropped and of course, she was unable to get new coverage because of the scarlet letter that far too many americans wear, pre-existing conditions. carol was still undergoing treatment when they dropped her and she couldn't continue taking the medicines that they had her on for seizures that were causing her headaches. two months after her brain surgery, her ex-husband passed away and now she is the only one there to support her 11-year-old son. carol tried getting coverage through public-private
partnership in colorado that wanted about $500 a month, almost half of her income. she makes over $1,000 a month. she can't afford that, rent, food, gas. no extra money. try living on $1,000. how are you going to spend that on health care? she is desperate to get health care coverage. carol says if there is anything to this health care reform, i would be forever grateful. carol, there is and i call on my colleagues in the house of representatives to pass health care reform. what would it mean? her income level, she would receive affordability credits that is a voucher that she would be able to take to the insurance provider of her choice and basically pay for the cost of health care insurance. those affordability credits are on a sliding scale.
for a family of two, they go up to $45,000 a year in income. if you are making $40,000, you get affordability credits. at 15,000 they cover 100% of health care. that is health care through the exchange and that is giving carol a choice of options, one of which would be the public option. the others would be private options that she would have the choice to choose. health insurance today is unattainable for carol and 45 million other americans like her. but passing health care reform, we can help carol and her 11-year-old son have a mother as she grows up. that's the face of health care reform.
as my colleagues cast their votes on health care reform, i encourage them to remember carol and her story and millions of others like her across this country. thank you, madam speaker. i would like to inquire as to how much time remains? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman has 15 minutes remaining. mr. polis: i rise today to share with you a powerful story from one of my constituents in colorado, jeanette. she lives in colorado, but she might as well live in texas, utah, oregon. her story could occur anywhere and could occur to any of us. jeanette's husband is self-employed and they have been
able to obtain their own health insurance. in their younger years when they didn't have any issues, when you don't need it, it's there. the question is what happens when you need it. in more recent years, jeanette said it has been difficult to get coverage because of pre-existing conditions. approximately three years ago, jeanette couldn't get insurance coverage because of acid reflux coverage and she went to a company that excluded disorders. the premiums were higher and they have gone up every year and the coverage isn't as good and doesn't include any prescriptions. doctors' visits are limit todd three a year with a maximum payment of $100. she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer and has been in a constant battle not only
for her health but a constant battle with her insurance companies to cover tests and treatments. even when it was 100% clear that jeanette's policy covered a treatment, her insurance company initially refused payment. now jeanette was on a drug for several years which is very expensive. middle-class family and don't qualify for public assistance. the least expensive price is $350 a month. jeanette re-imports from another country at a lower cost. you are allowed to do that and many american families are forced to resort to that. jeanette's husband is 67 and she is 64. jeanette knows there are many people in her situation and asks us to do somethi.